We were on a land tour to begin with through India and the company VOA chose to lead the tour was very good. There were enough people that we had 3 bus loads visiting Agra, Jaipur and New Delhi. Our guide was a bit difficult to understand and I would say that was the only negative. Accomodations on the pre tour were outstanding. We rode a train from New Delhi which was an experience, visited many sites,rode in a tuk tuk had wonderful food as all meals pre trip were provided. Our eyes were opened when we saw what we saw in the countryside of India. What we saw in the golden triangle contrasted sharply with what we saw in Mumbai and Porbandor.
We embarked the ship in Mumbai with great ease. The first part of the cruise from Mumbai to Safaga had only 155 passengers, mainly Australians, a few Brits, Canadians and 19 Americans. Having the ship to ourselves was a spoiling experience. We celebrated Easter on board with an extravagant lunch in the Terrace complete with many decorated tables decked out with Easter chocolates. Food was lamb, beef and fish. Both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Bible readings were read. The evening meal was in the Marco Polo dining room for all since we were a cozy group. I believe everyone would say that Easter was very special.
Our shore excursions were ran very efficiently and the quality was good. I heard no complaints whatsoever about these. We were kept on a quick pace.
Since we traveled through some rough waters surrounding Yemen and Somalia, the captain informed us of safety preparations in the event of pirate activity. Those on deck could see some men who were special ops forces on the bridge looking out through binoculars. The majority of the ships passengers will tell stories of one day's travel when several fishing boats with big motors carrying 8 passengers all standing circled our ship, raising their hands. The ops men were on their walkie talkies discussing this. At no time did I feel uncomfortable. The ship had taken precautions to have the water hoses tied to the deck so they could spray and razor wire was on the back deck so no one could climb up.
Food was wonderful, plentiful, and varied. Carlos, the restaurant manager made certain that fresh fish was purchased whenever possible. Fresh strawberries were purchased in Turkey and the next day we had strawberries, clotted cream, melted chocolate to dip. How decadent was that?
There were some previous complaints about the ship looking shabby. I could not see how anyone could say that. On days at sea maintenance was busy sanding and varnishing railings, sanding decks etc. The public areas were spotless.
Entertainment was light and the many days at sea traveling the Suez Canal were long but the library had many books and I feel the majority of people on this cruise could take care of themselves.
TV had some rather interesting choices for movies mainly old movies. None of the main tv channels had offerings but during the last part of the cruise a young man came on and worked the wirings and we were able to get 24 France and CNBC channel.
Our guest lecturers were quite good. Martin Bell and Sandy Gall known to all the Brits. An artist who ran a workshop and was interesting to watch while on shore excursions with him. Then a man who is seen on tv lecturing about the Crusades and finally an expert who came on with his young family and talked about antiquities.
The second part of the cruise from Safaga to Istanbul saw more passengers and we were at 305 capacity. It did put a bigger strain on the wait staff and there were longer lines but I do not believe anyone suffered as there was no place to go anyway.
Post cruise was in Istanbul and again hotels were fantastic with breakfast included, 3 tours were provided including the Bazaar.
Overall I do not see how anyone could complain. If they did they would have to be very picky and have to look hard for it.
Would I cruise with them again. Yes. I do not think I would ever go as long again but the ship was great, staff accomodating, every need taken care of and I feel it was a pretty good value. Would depend on the itinerary